A demolition firm has been sentenced after knocking down a building in the Lake District containing hundreds of asbestos ceiling tiles, putting the lives of workers and local residents at risk.
IBT Contracting Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after carrying out the work at a former photography factory, despite not having a licence to remove asbestos.
Kendal Magistrates' Court heard IBT had been given a survey by the owners of the site ahead of the work taking place, which stated that the building contained 166 square metres of asbestos ceiling tiles.
But the company failed to arrange for a licensed contractor to remove the tiles safely, and instead released deadly asbestos fibres into the air during the building's demolition.
IBT Contracting pleaded guilty to three breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006, for removing asbestos without a licence, exposing workers to asbestos fibres, and allowing the fibres to spread to neighbouring areas.
The company was fined £10,800 and ordered to pay £3,638.95 in prosecution costs.
Asbestos was used in ceiling tiles up until the 1980s to help insulate buildings. The tiles only become dangerous if they are broken up and asbestos fibres are released into the air.
Fibres that are breathed in can become lodged in the lungs or digestive tract, and may lead to lung cancer or other diseases if large numbers of fibres are inhaled. However, symptoms may not appear for several decades.
Around 4,000 people die every year as a result of breathing in asbestos fibres, making it the biggest single cause of work-related deaths in the UK.
Find out more about claims for asbestos exposure here.